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Data protection bill not formally sent to Parl’s IT panel

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram has termed as “untrue” Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s statement that the parliamentary IT committee has given a “thumbs up” to the revised draft of the data protection bill, and said the bill has not been formally sent to the panel.

Karti Chidambaram’s party colleague and former chief of the parliamentary IT panel Shashi Tharoor called for widespread consultation on the bill.

Vaishnaw on Thursday said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology has given a “thumbs up” for the revised draft of the data protection law.

Vaishnaw, a bureaucrat turned politician who presently handles the IT portfolio, said an advanced copy of the revised bill on data protection was shared with the committee.

Reacting to Vaishnaw’s remarks, Congress’ Lok Sabha MP and member of the IT panel Karti Chidambaram said, “IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said the Standing Committee on Communications and IT has approved the draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022. As a Member of the Committee, I would like to categorically state that the Bill has not been approved.” The draft bill was released for public consultation in November 2022 and in December, during a discussion on citizens’ privacy and data security, the Committee also held a preliminary discussion on the draft bill, he said, adding that members raised a number of issues with the draft.

Parliamentary procedure mandates that a bill after introduction in the House, the Speaker or Chairman may recommend it for examination to the Committee, Chidambaram said on Twitter on Thursday night.

“The DPDP Bill has not been formally sent to the Committee & hence a ‘big thumbs up’ claimed by Ashwini Vaishnaw is untrue,” he said.

Vaishnaw, while speaking in Mumbai had said, “I would like to share some good news that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT and Communications… before this bill is taken to the Parliament, they have given a big thumbs up.” In 2021, the government withdrew an earlier version of the same bill after a slew of changes suggested by a Joint Parliamentary Committee and promised to come up with a new bill, which it did late last year.

Reacting to Chidambaram’s remarks, former chief of the IT panel and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, “That’s worrying. A Bill of this importance should benefit from widespread consultation & support to be effective.” “Hope it is formally referred to the Committee. After so many delays a couple of months won’t matter,” Tharoor said Friday. PTI

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